Speaker John Boehner has long been a champion of school choice. The policy allows children to escape failing schools by letting them take a portion of the money government spends on their education and direct it to a school of their choosing. The primary beneficiaries of the few programs in existence are minority kids, trapped in urban schools. Since his inauguration, President Obama has targeted for elimination a modest voucher program in the District of Columbia. Today, however, it was announced that Speaker Boehner has caused Obama to reverse course.
From The Hill:
The private school voucher initiative in the nation’s capital is a top priority of Boehner’s, and the agreement comes after the Speaker and Lieberman complained that President Obama’s decision to zero out funding for the program in his latest budget contradicted a law he signed in 2011. Boehner had successfully attached legislation extending and expanding the scholarships to a government funding accord last year.
“For eight years, this scholarship program has empowered low-income parents to choose the best learning environment for their children,” Boehner said in a statement. “Thousands of families have taken advantage of this scholarship program to give their children an opportunity to succeed in life, and there’s strong evidence that it’s both effective and cost-effective. I’m pleased that an agreement has been reached to expand the program, consistent with the law already on the books.”
The program provides funding for low-income parents to send their children to private or parochial schools. Under the agreement Boehner announced, there will be no cap on enrollment, and the program will remain open to both new and current applicants.
School choice is an idea that makes such imminent sense, it is hard to understand why it is even subject to debate or partisan fighting. Of course, I understand why it is...the teachers' unions and their financial lock on today's Democrat party. But, I don't understand why anyone who isn't on the union or government's payroll can honestly object to the idea.
The hot-beds of conservative ideology Holland and Sweden have long had school choice programs more robust and far-reaching than anything ever attempted in the US. In Holland, each year the government asks parents to which school should they send the entire amount of money that government spends on each child.
Our public education system is designed to benefit the adults in the system, not the students. I applaud Boehner's focus on this issue and congratulate him on his success in winning a brighter future for DC students. Hopefully one day, all students can finally have a choice in where they learn.